1967 Martin D-18 Bridge Plate retainer

Submitted by Jim on Wed, 2007-08-15 17:27.

A customer brought in this beautiful and great sounding guitar, but they were concerned about the cracks in the soundboard eminating from the bridge.

Martin D18

These cracks are often caused by the ball ends of the strings damaging the soundboard. This happens when the bridge plate, which is a piece of hardwood, normally maple or rosewood glued to the underside of the soundboard, is worn away by years of playing, changing strings etc.

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Refretting a '70s Gibson Heritage

Submitted by Jim on Wed, 2006-11-29 22:52.

A gorgeous '70s Gibson Heritage. Sounding amazing, but heavy wear on the frets has made fretting chords on the first three frets almost impossible.

There was lots of wear across all the frets, so a complete refret was required. The first job was to remove all the frets.

This is done by heating each fret up with a 100W soldering iron. This heat breaks the glue holding the frets in. The soldering iron is followed by a pair of fret pullers, which are really a small pair of flush cutters. The act of squeezing the fret with them will pull the fret out. Much care must be taken not to pull out and crack the fingerboard, so the fret should be well heated.

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Submitted by Jim on Wed, 2006-11-29 00:08.

Just a quick one about a very unusual instrument that came by the shop.

This is a Zither.  It is a folk instrument, played with hammers, and is a precursor to the piano.  Other Zithers include, amongst others, the Hammer Dulcimer.

My job was to clean it, replace the missing strings, and tune it.  Tuning it is much like tuning a piano.  You have a key that turns very stiff friction pegs that tighten the strings to pitch.

First, I attached a clip on pickup to the soundboard,

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Zither Banjo

Submitted by Jim on Wed, 2006-11-29 00:02.

In the shop, I often get attic discoveries that need a good overhaul. They often are in a good and workable condition, they just need a little attention to get them running again.

A gentleman brought in what might initially seem like a lost cause. This is an incredibly old banjo, and seemed like it may have seen better days.

However, you can see from the back of the banjo that this was a beautiful instrument, and deserved closer inspection.

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Claude Leblanc Parlour 2

Submitted by Jim on Tue, 2006-11-28 23:59.

With the old bridge removed, the new bridge must be carved from an ebony blank.

First, I glued the two parts of the old bridge together, so I could have an accurate shape.  After sanding the ebony block to have flat and square sides, I drew a plan view of the bridge onto the blank.

When making a new bridge for a guitar, it is always important to make it a tiny amount larger, so as to cover any sign on the finish or surface of the wood left by the old bridge.

With the shape drawn on, I could then cut it out.  I chose to leave the tapering sides until after most of the carving and shaping had been complete, so as to ensure they didn't break off.  The bridge was constantly checked against the guitar, to ensure that it was the correct size, and was lining up with the two inlaid dots at the extremities of the bridge.

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Claud Leblanc Parlour

Submitted by Jim on Tue, 2006-11-28 23:57.

A curious thing came in to the workshop today. It is a parlour guitar from the 19th century. I have so far been unable to identify it, or date it, so email me if you think you know more.

It was in a state of reasonable repair, considering current thinking is it may be older than 1850. The back had come away, and the bridge had disintegrated. This was likely to be because Steel strings had been used. A previous owner had got the guitar up and running by fitting an archtop tailpiece, therefore just using the old bridge for its crowning point.

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